ANONYMOUS: On assault narratives

Editors’ note: It is the policy of the News not to publish anonymous stories. For these two cases, an exception has been made. The names of both writers have been kept confidential to give them the chance to speak freely and to ensure that the people they write about are also kept anonymous. The editors know the identities of the writers and have confirmed their stories to the greatest extent possible.

The night of my Freshman Screw, a friend attempted to rape me. To use a phrase from Patrick Witt’s press release, we had an “on-again, off-again” relationship. We’d met in front of my dorm in Old Campus in August, become closer in “Introduction to Political Philosophy,” and we kissed for the first time in the L-Dub courtyard. I had visited him when he was sick over winter break.

Running down the stairs of his dorm after he had dismissed my repeated insistence that I did not want to have sex with him, I screamed at him, asking why he would do this to me. He tried to justify himself: “You’re just so beautiful.”

I now have a much firmer grasp on how the reporting mechanisms at Yale work. At the time, I knew nothing. I decided to report the assault because my assailant was harassing me — texting me constantly, trying to track my location down through my roommate — and for the very practical reason that he was in a seminar with me. I chose to go before the now-defunct Sexual Harassment Grievance Board (SHGB) because it was the only mechanism my freshman counselor knew about.

The SHGB encouraged me to pursue an informal complaint. In retrospect, that may very well have been the right path, and I’m glad Yale provides this option. I can understand why a survivor would prefer a quiet, short process; reporting informally to the SHGB allowed me to stop the harassment quickly, and the student agreed to measures to stop contact. I’m also not sure that I would have chosen to report at all if an informal, contained procedure had not been guaranteed, given the stigmatization of sexual violence very much alive on our campus.

But I resent that I was pressured toward one specific route among many, largely because the board clearly did not think my case was serious enough for a formal or criminal complaint. I was told it wouldn’t be worth the emotional pain of going to the police or ExComm. When I presented my main evidence — a series of communications from my assailant admitting to wrongdoing and constituting, as I later learned from a lawyer, stalking — one member remarked that my assailant was clearly in love with me. Before I left my meeting with the board, I was told to tell no one, because word might get around.

I received similar responses from the small group of friends I eventually told. While some were supportive, others encouraged me not to “overreact,” insisting that other women had been through worse, as though the lack of gory details disqualified my trauma. Others later remarked they assumed it hadn’t been that big of a deal since I had only pursued informal measures. One encouraged me to get over it, like one should — as he described — forgive a boyfriend who has strayed.

These friends and the SHGB accepted the premise that many writers, including Nathaniel Zelinsky ’13 (“Truth in the Witt assault story,” Jan. 30), have been using when discussing Pat Witt: There’s real, violent rape, and then there’s the other, less serious stuff. And as it has repeatedly been implied, nothing that transpires between two people who were ever romantically entangled can fall in the first category.

I don’t know the alleged victim of Patrick Witt, nor do I assume that my experience resembles hers. But I do know that neither of our stories fits the popular conception of what rape looks like. We knew the men who we claim violated us. We didn’t go to the police. And many have discounted us because of this.

Again, I cannot speak to the thoughts of the anonymous victim. But I can promise you that being assaulted by a friend does not rank as any less bad than being assaulted by a stranger in some set hierarchy of harms. I can promise you my reasoning for pursuing an informal complaint was not that the whole thing wasn’t that big of a deal. Being assaulted by a young man I knew and then being silenced by Yale shook my trust in my relationships and my place at this school. The dizzying nausea of running into my assailant at parties, avoiding classes I thought he might shop and losing mutual friends has unfairly deprived me of a full Yale experience.

I said “No,” and a man decided it didn’t matter. That fact — whether or not I had bruises, whether or not I reported to the police — should matter to you.

The writer is an undergraduate.


  • The Anti-Yale

    Being “silenced” is a choice.

    Paul Keane

    M. Div. ’80

    (NOT anonymous)

    [This comment has been edited by moderators.]

    • Inigo_Montoya

      PK, there is a world of difference between (A) publicly revealing that a woman (not you!) has transmitted an STD to her baby and (B) publicly revealing that you yourself have been the victim of attempted rape. Your comment, and in particular your holier-than-thou statement that you are “NOT anonymous,” trivialize rape and the social stigma surrounding it.

      To the author: You may have made the decision not to read the comments on this article. If you are reading this, though, I want you to know that whatever PK thinks, some of us realize that you are brave.

    • Yale12

      Shut up, PK. How dare you compare your own experiences to this woman, who was sexually assaulted. Your self-centeredness is disgusting.

      And then to criticize her anonymity, as if your choice to not be anonymous in telling people about a prostitute is in any way comparable to giving up your identity as a victim of sexual assault? You have taken this to a whole other level. You should be ashamed.

  • Saybrook10

    I will echo Inigo_Montoya. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that your article helps attune people–students, administrators, faculty–to the importance of providing support to victims of sexual violence, no matter what route they may choose in responding to such an experience.

  • Jess

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope students’ response to it will elicit something of our better natures, instead of the usual hateful victim-blaming. Stay strong!

  • The Anti-Yale

    “holier-than-thou statement that you are “NOT anonymous,” trivialize rape ”

    Your analysis it too narrow: I am trivializing the entire world of anonymity which has both produced this monstrously irresponsible web of hypothesies and suppositions about Mr. Witt in the NYT and the wreckless, savage, anonymous posters who hide in cowardice on the YDN posting board.

    Even the few I admire hide.

    It is not a Brave New World, it is a Cowardly New World which the social networking phenomenon has created.


    • Yale12

      That may have been what you intended, but you apparently lack the human compassion and foresight to see that your statement, in fact, was callous and trivializing.

  • 180tds

    Whoever wrote this is amazingly brave. Anonymous or not, it’s so rare that these stories get into the public eye, and it requires real courage to share. It’s particularly important at a time when so many people at Yale can’t seem to sympathize with sexual assault victims, when there’s controversy over Yale providing a mechanism to help these victims without forcing them to go through a lengthy process that requires they relive these horrible memories. The fact that the author of this piece decided to share is a testament to her strength and her desire to make sure that Yale becomes a better place.

  • bytheway248

    very courageous article. thank you! but zelinsky’s argument was not represented fairly

  • penny_lane

    Thank you for sharing your story. It breaks my heart that academic dishonesty is taken more seriously at Yale than sex offenses are. It also sounds like you had a better case than “he said she said” (someone probably heard you yelling, your roommate is a witness to his stalking), and Yale was wrong to hide that from you.

    I’ve also thought over and over again about the hell Witt’s alleged victim must be going through right now. I wish her peace of mind.

  • eli1

    I am honestly pretty sick of the culture of anonymity that is present within this whole fiasco. While I appreciate the author’s candor, I really think it is time that all involved man up and stop hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. While I can see why the author would want to remain anoymous, others who have basically slandered Mr. Witt in the NYT and other media need to grow up and be accountable for their comments.

    [This comment has been edited my moderators.]

    • dontusuallycomment

      Troll bait? In any case, I’m with, “eli1,” let’s stop being anonymous.

    • Frashizzle

      Second that… assuming that you are using the term “man-up” ironically.

    • AtticusFinch

      First off, don’t portray bravery as exclusively a masculine characteristic (this coming from a man). Second, it is easy for you from your position on the outside of the situation to cast blame on the victim for deciding to keep her identity a secret. If something that negative and traumatic happened to you, would you want your name to be released on campus, especially considering the type of atmosphere/campus Yale is? Thirdly, we cannot do away with the anonymity of sexual claims as long as such large-scale callous responses to sexual assault claims remain. Almost every time I’ve I’ve spoken with someone who is against anonymity, they seem to think that sexual assault claims, whether anonymous or public, are almost always false and used as a form of revenge for a spiteful ex-partner.

      • Frashizzle

        I sort-of agree, but you must also remember that such accusations (regardless of whether they’re proven) carry very real consequences for the accused. The fact that we’ve (at Yale) expanded the definition of sexual assault to be reliant on such abstract (and emotional) things causes the system of filing anonymous claims to be very open for abuse. We MUST recognize this potential; even though one side of the argument is emotionally charged. We MUST look past our emotions and rationally consider the mechanics of the system. It seems to me that we’re currently doing far to little of this.

      • Omar_Mumallah

        I’m totally with AtticusFinch, my experience with those against anonymity is the same. Also good on you author for coming out with this. I wish people like Atticus and I had the power to change this campus culture that protects sexual assaulters and vilifies the victims. Seeing some of the callous, shallow, and incredibly self-righteous responses to your piece is some of the strongest evidence for rape culture that could be conceived.

        There is no incentive for the author to write this piece — she is not anonymously accusing anyone and not receiving any tangible benefit from it — she is demonstrating very viscerally and powerfully both the experience of being stalked and sexually assaulted — and coincidentally, through the comments here and her “friends'” reactions (btw girl, seriously get some better friends) to her story, she is also revealing for our eyes the campus culture towards rape and sexual assault. We ignore it at our peril.

        You are absolutely justified in taking care of yourself in such a culture and not coming out. Stay strong. You have allies if you ever do decide to come out.

  • Bouchet

    I think most people appreciate the safety and security the anonymous process gives to those that feel have been victimized. The problem in this case is that Witt’s anonymity was violated by various parties in this case (those that reported him to the Rhodes, the Rhodes for acting on what appears to have been an “informal” process, the New York Times, etc). Being accused of sexual assault is one of the worst things one can be accused of – everyone involved needs to be aware of the gravity of such claims.

  • AlexH

    Anonymous, I applaud your bravery for sharing something so personal but really important.

    Your point is one that people seem to forget in their rush to condemn the media: sexual assault takes many forms and all are to be taken seriously. Yale is trying to do better by individuals such as yourself by having transparency (with the Title IX report), the informal and formal system, and revamped workshops/panels dealing with these issues.

    It is NOT the responsibility of the victim to “man up” or reveal his/her identity. They owe NOTHING to the public or to their attacker. The only person they owe anything to is themselves: to heal and to enjoy the rest of their life.

    • Bouchet

      Alex, what rights do the accused have (if any)? Anonymous reporting is fine and beneficial as the article states; however, employers, award committees (Rhodes), the media (NYTimes), etc (all people with the right to harm the accused) then need to essentially treat the claims as if they never existed.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “It is NOT the responsibility of the victim to “man up” or reveal his/her identity. They owe NOTHING to the public or to their attacker”

    If they accuse a person by name in a public medium, then they owe that person the right to face their accuser and the right to defend themselves in pursuit of exonneration.

    To valorize and beatify anonymity because the accuser might be further injured before there has been proof they have been injured at all seems a trifle unfair, n’est-ce-pas?

    Paul Keane

    M. Div. ’80

    • Yale12

      But Pat Witt was not identified by the victim in a public medium. Neither did this victim identify her attacker by name. SO WTF are you talking about?

      • The Anti-Yale

        He was identified by his alleged victim in a public medium ONCE the NYT published the anonymous attributions of such, and the YDN published the report of the confusion over the NYT’s anonymous attributions.

        Defamation by any other name is still dfemation, especially when cloaked in anonymity.

        I’m with River-Tam on this one.


        • dontusuallycomment

          His victim has not come forward. That’s absolutely false. From the Times:

          “Witt’s accuser has not gone to the police, nor filed what Yale considers a formal complaint. The New York Times has not spoken with her and does not know her name.”

        • Yale12

          HIS VICTIM DID NOT IDENTIFY HIM. EVER. She accused him privately and never intended for the info to be released. It was not her fault that somebody else leaked the information. SHE OWES PATRICK WITT NOTHING.

  • Y86

    AlexH and others—Just because, in some small ways it matters, how much bravery does it really require to write an anonymous article in a newspaper?

    Putting your name to something painful requires bravery, yes. And I’m certainly not faulting the author for not wanting to do so. I’m just saying that it doesn’t really “take real courage to share” when you do so anonymously, and suggesting that there is diminishes the bravery of those who disclose difficult things and also put their name to them.

    • alsoanon

      I can’t speak for this author, but I know that in my life it can often take me months to write in my own diary about particularly terrifying or traumatic experiences. There’s a certain way in which committing something to writing makes it real, inescapable. Having that writing read by an entire campus can, I would imagine, only magnify that feeling. There is absolutely a great deal of bravery involved in writing something like this, even if only of the most personal nature.

    • Bouchet

      There is no issue with these authors sharing these painful experiences anonymously given they did not accuse individuals by name in a public forum.

      [This comment has been edited by moderators.]

  • Y86

    I see your point, Alsoanon, but, you know…to me, bravery is storming the beaches at Normandy or running into a burning building to save an inhabitant or keeping your cool when your plane is on fire so you can land it safely in the Hudson River. I mean this in all respect, but I’m just not sure that summoning the strength to write something in your journal quite measures up. I’m not putting it down, I know these things can be hard, but I think it’s important to keep things in perspective. Good for Anon for writing about her experience in a serious, thoughtful, constructive way; but if she’d put her name to it, that would have been truly brave.

    • alsoanon

      It seems to me that bravery works on different scales for different people. If someone with terrible agoraphobia walks out of the house in the morning, for them that is brave. If someone with PTSD faces something that triggers them, for them that is brave. I don’t know how hard or easy this was to write for this author, but until you yourself know that, you can’t say that it isn’t brave–personally, for them.

    • Omar_Mumallah

      Someone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted or raped really has no business judging the survivors as being “brave” or not. You haven’t a clue and your cavalier grandstanding disgraces you.

  • River_Tam

    It is shameful that the YDN has published these rape stories in a attempt to link anonymous allegations of rape by other men to what’s happened to Pat Witt.

    • SY10

      Sorry River, but you are completely off base here. The reaction many people on these comment boards have had to Witt’s accuser is a perfect example of why these articles are necessary. There have been claims that the form of complaint proves that the accuser was a liar (because if he’d really committed rape or committed “real” rape she would have used a more public or punitive forum), so these articles are necessary reminders of why a victim of sexual assault might choose the sort of form Witt’s accuser used (as I write accuser for the third time, I feel it necessary to point out that I think the term is far too unsympathetic to her, but I believe if I use “victim” I’ll be dismissed out of hand by the Witt defenders here for having convicted him sans evidence). They in fact demonstrate why some victims might not bring their story forward in any forum.

      Moreover, this article in particular shows how Yale’s policies for dealing with sexual assault are not, contrary to the paranoid assertions of the conservative media and various Witt supporters, hopelessly biased against the accused. In fact the opposite is true. Yale actively pushes women into processes designed, first and foremost, to protect the university’s reputation by preventing negative publicity on account of a public rape accusation or even the sort of formal complaint that would force the university to count an event in its publicly reported statistics. These procedures, in general, have the associated effect of protecting those accused of sexual assault from any sort of serious accountability at all.

      Other issues relevant to the Witt case that these articles deal with include the insinuation that his accuser could not really have been raped because she had a past history with him and a reminder of how victims are judged, ignored, or condescended to both by official bodies at Yale and by the community as a whole (including, far too often it seems, their own friends).

      My only complaint with the YDN for publishing these articles is that they did not (if I recall correctly) publish similar pieces when the Title IX complaint was announced or after the DKE incident or the Zeta Psi incident (of my undergrad days) to help explain to people who seem to persistently and stubbornly refuse to get it the problems both with Yale’s sexual culture and with the ways that the administration deals with it.

      • es1212

        “My only complaint with the YDN for publishing these articles is that they did not (if I recall correctly) publish similar pieces when the Title IX complaint was announced or after the DKE incident or the Zeta Psi incident (of my undergrad days) to help explain to people who seem to persistently and stubbornly refuse to get it the problems both with Yale’s sexual culture and with the ways that the administration deals with it.”


      • JackJ

        Examples please. I just re-read all the comments for both these articles and find no examples where the accuser in the Witt case is in any way maligned or impugned. Most of the comments not about Title IX matters and Princeton revolve around whether a group of vigilantes orchestrated a vendetta against Witt. You want to talk about rape and Princeton, we want to talk about whether Witt has been defamed, not by his initial accuser, but by a group of individuals who chose to take matters into their own but anonymous hands.

      • River_Tam

        Nothing you’ve written (and I agree with a lot of it) has anything to do with Pat Witt at all. The University having bad policies on handling sexual assault means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING when it comes to the guilt or innocence of Patrick Witt. Absolutely nothing. Even in a police state, some people break the law. Even in Watts, some people accused of murder are innocent.

        The complaint against Pat Witt was confidential, as it should have been. The leaking and innuendo was a travesty. This piling on is awful.

        I will admit I am wrong if you can even just tell me exactly what Patrick Witt is accused of.

        That’s right. You (and I) have no idea. So everyone should just stfu and stop smearing a man for an alleged crime when y’all don’t even know what that crime entails, let alone if he is guilty or not.


      • HighStreet2010

        Tilting against windmills.

        Nobody here is calling the victim a liar, nobody here is some ‘conservative Witt supporter, hopelessly biased against the accused’ (I think you meant the other way around), saying that she couldn’t have been raped because she had a past history, judging her or ‘condescending’ to her.

        All anyone is saying is that it’s a terrible situation where you find yourself accused of sexual assault in a national paper, with absolutely no facts on the record. The fact of the matter is that just the implication is enough to ruin someones reputation completely – for evidence, see your post where you essentially state that you believe he is a rapist. I don’t see you refuting that point but instead going on a tangent about flaws in the rape reporting process.

        • SY10

          But they are doing what you say they aren’t in the first paragraph. You misread what you sort of quote. “hopelessly biased against the accused” clearly was a description of how parts of the “conservative media” and Witt supporters have been describing Yale’s policies toward sexual assault. See the second to last paragraph of this Washington Post Op-Ed, which I’ve seen linked on these boards: It compares Yale’s institutions for dealing with sexual assault with the Spanish Inquisition. This piece was a response in part to ideas like that about how Yale functions and thus relevant to the current discussion of the Witt case.

          As for insinuating that the accuser is a liar, see the third comment to this article: as one example among many. The commenter’s line about not believing that Witt “can’t get a date” is a classic example of the argument that anyone accusing a famous person of sexual assault is obviously lying because of course they wanted to have sex with him. I don’t know that anyone has come out and said outright that the accuser is a liar, but the insinuation is everywhere.
          As for past history and another accusation of lying: see the second to last comment here:

          So yeah, all that stuff is out there. If you think it isn’t, you either haven’t been paying attention or have chose not to recognize it.

          I don’t think my post is a tangent, because these two opinion pieces aren’t actually about Witt. They bring in that case to show how what their stories are relevant to how we think about sexual assault accusations at Yale, most particularly one that has recently produced an outpouring of poorly thought out reactions.

  • The Anti-Yale

    This is a first? What the heck did I say? I can’t remember so can’t even crow at having been provocative! Are you guys being oevrly sensitive?

  • Y86

    Agreed with JackJ. There’s really no reason to involve the accuser, and while there may be a few isolated morons who’ve said anything critical about her, for the most part people have been appropriately respectful.

  • Y86

    Frankly, the person who put the accuser in the most difficult spot in this whole media brouhaha is Richard Perez-Pena.

  • Goldie08

    River, you’ve had some good comments today – I’ve decided that while we don’t see eye to eye on certain issues (those are just givens and differences in our beliefs) I think you’re a pretty smart, level headed,logical person that has shown (unlike PK) consistency between posts, even going back a year or 2. I’m sure you make a good debator.

    Echoing her comment above, I’m really unable to weigh in on the Witt situation – it’s just extremely complicated and confusing.

    Lastly, regarding this essay, (and let me be clear that I support the author and her anonymity) I just have a question. As a guy, I feel there is a grey area to what is and is not acceptable and what is considered stalking. Say I am with a friend/acquaintance, GF, whatever make a clear and straightforward proposition: “Would you like to [make out, oral, whatever]?” and she responds with a clear no, something like “no, not tonight” or “let’s wait” or even “I just think of you as a friend.” Then she leaves. Obviously chasing after her and shouting is out of the question, but what if I yell out the door after her as she leaves (not loudly, in a somewhat self pitying tone) something like “oh come on” or “really?!”

    Is that considered sexual assault? When does normal behavior/persistence switch over to assault. As a generally laid back person, I feel I don’t really toe that line (“oh well, plenty of fish in the sea”), but events like this scare me.

    • River_Tam

      > Obviously chasing after her and shouting is out of the question, but what if I yell out the door after her as she leaves (not loudly, in a somewhat self pitying tone) something like “oh come on” or “really?!” Is that considered sexual assault?

      Only if it doesn’t work.

      To be completely honest, I don’t think I fully understand what constitutes sexual assault in today’s society. Half the things Ryan Gosling does in The Notebook / Crazy Stupid Love could have been considered harassment and/or sexual assault had the woman involved responded poorly.

      I mean, sending letters every day for a year? Creepy and weird. Reapproaching a girl who said she wasn’t interested? What a creep. Stopping a ferris wheel to corner a girl? Really should get the police involved. Forcing a kiss upon Rachel McAdams? Classic rapist. Except, of course, that he’s Ryan Gosling (omg <3).

      Don’t get me started on Leo in Titanic.

      PS: Thanks for the kind words.

    • SY10

      Please, it’s perfectly clear that what you’re talking about is not sexual assault, and claiming to be unsure about whether it is constitutes a rhetorical tactic for dismissing the claims that actual victims of it make. It might well (depending on the circumstances) be sexual harassment, which is harder to define in general terms. Sexual assault is a criminal offense, involving an actual physical attempt (or threat) to cause someone to engage in sexual contact against her (or his) will. Sexual harassment is a civil offense which can included repeated unwanted verbal advances, though only behavior far more egregious (or repeated far more frequently) than you describe is likely to result in any sort of action against you. And in any case you would never face criminal charges for the situation you described.

      I guess it’s possible you are simply misreading the article somewhat. When the author talks about the man involved talking to her as she runs down the stairs, she is not saying that his words constituted sexual assault. It’s fairly clear that it’s whatever happened in his dorm (which she doesn’t describe).

      So anyway, nothing you’ve written about yourself should give you any reason to fear that you will face a sexual assault charge.

      As for River’s point about romantic comedies, yes, they depict a lot of bad behavior, much of which is sexual harassment, some of which is sexual assault. And that’s a real problem.

      • River_Tam

        > Please, it’s perfectly clear that what you’re talking about is not sexual assault, and claiming to be unsure about whether it is constitutes a rhetorical tactic for dismissing the claims that actual victims of it make.

        I’m not so sure. Verbal sexual assault is real, and the line at where it intersects with standard human interaction is hazy to a lot of people.

        • SY10

          As a legal matter, that’s not true. There has to be inappropriate physical contact or (in the case of attempted sexual assault) an attempt to force inappropriate sexual contact. See the end of the wikipedia article ( for some quotes of actual sexual assault statutes. South Africa does make provision for intentionally inspiring the belief in someone that they will be sexually assaulted, but that seems like a law against threats – and prohibiting threats to commit violent crimes doesn’t seem that exceptional or likely to be causing Goldie’s confusion. Other than that, I’m aware of no way in which purely verbal activity could constitute sexual assault as a matter of law. If you are, I’d be interested to hear about it.

          • River_Tam

            > There has to be inappropriate physical contact or (in the case of attempted sexual assault) an attempt to force inappropriate sexual contact.

            Legally, sure. But we’re not dealing with the rule of law here – we’re dealing with an informal university complaint. If there’s verbal assault and there’s sexual assault, there stands to reason that the confluence of the two is a possibility.

            But fine – if we just call it “sexual harassment”, we *still* don’t know where the line is.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The last thing I want to be is “consistent” or someone who admires a football player.

    But I do not admire mudslingers who hide behind curtains, or others who pick up the mud and report on how it arrived at its latest destination, and call that process journalism.

    Something very important has happened in the last few days: The two journals I admire most (NYT and YDN) have stooped to conquer.

    Not good.

    Paul D. Keane

    M. Div. ’80

    • observer

      Your participation in this discussion has been, for the most part, ill-advised and, in my view, repulsive in tone and intemperate in language.

      On other topics, over the years, your shtick has simply come across as crotchety and iconoclastic.

      Here you have crossed the line, IMHO, and have disgraced your alma mater, Yale Divinity School.

    • Omar_Mumallah

      Agreed with “observer”. Browbeating rape victims is a real low.

  • The Anti-Yale

    If I am a disgrace, it is because I sign my name, for you to label it as such.

    Anonymity is cowardice.

    If the shoe fits, wear it.

    Paul Keane

    • observer

      A Gingrich-like response

    • xfxjuice

      Extremely valid point, and I must agree with much you have written these past few days. It is times like these when there is no obligation to tip-toe around the people’s feelings. There are actual reputations at stake, and if the accusers are willing to ruin the life of another, whether or not it is true, then they should be held equally accountable in case what they say is false or exaggerated.

      • Standards

        What are you talking about?

        What accuser tried to ruin the life of another? All the accusers that are relevant at the moment filed confidential and informal complaints. They didn’t go to the media about this, others did.

        I don’t see how the accusers are in the least bit relevant here.

        • JackJ

          The “accusers” being referred to by the posters are the six anonymous sources referenced in the NYT’s article. They provided information which cannot be verified. Perhaps one or more of them contacted the Rhodes Trust and in doing so perhaps improperly ‘accused’ Patrick Witt of sexual assault. Thus they take on the role of “accuser.” As everyone has taken great pains to make clear no one has issues with the filer of the complaint. The issue is whether, once a complaint is resolved and confidentiality is expected and you’re not one of the correspondents, to go public with what may or may not be accurate information. Additionally, if you do go public is it cowardly to do so anonymously, especially when the target of your vendetta has little choice in methods of resopnse? Those are the questions in play here.

    • Yale12

      The fact that you call the anonymity of a rape victim cowardice is unbelievable to me. Are you really that blinded by your own blithering agenda?

      What about a member of a tyrannical regime who wants to speak out but who will be killed if his name is given? Is that person being cowardly, too? What about a witness to a terrible crime who tells his story but withholds his name for fear of retribution? Is that cowardly?

      Or is it cowardly for a man on a comment board to attack an 18-year-old rape victim because she chose not to give her name?

      • The Anti-Yale

        As far as I know, there a very few on the comment board who could qualify as a “man” (or “woman”).

        It is all anonymity cloaked in pseudonymity.

        There is no “18 year old girl”.

        There is only “anonymous.”

        The editors say: “Trust us. We know the person.”

        That is not journalism.

        It is high-fallutin gossip—whether emanating from the NYT or the YDN.

        If you want to live in a world of hearsay, go ahead.

        I refuse to do so.

        And I refuse to be silent when such behavior smears those presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

        This is still America, after all, despite the politically correct hysteria at Yale.

        This posting world your generation has created is an echo chamber, inside a room of mirrors, recorded on digital cameras.

        I refuse to be manipulated by your technological house of cards, or intimidated by your insults.

        My empathy is reserved for real persons, with real names, in a real world.

        Paul D. Keane

        • Yale12

          > My empathy is reserved for real persons, with real names, in a real world.


  • Mikelawyr2

    Attempted rape is a felony in Connecticut. What did the guy do that constituted attempted rape? There’s a lot here not said. What did he do besides insisting, and why was this not described in this story? Exactly what happened that could allow a jury to send the guy to jail? Isn’t that a central fact that was omitted?

    We have a daughter, and one of our inescapable parental worries is that our daughter may someday suffer the life-changing terror that a victim of such a crime must feel. (You don’t know what it’s like to worry vicariously about such things until you have a daughter.) But we also have a son, and while we have repeatedly instructed him that “no” means no, that “yes” from a tipsy partner means no, and anything except an unqualified “yes” means no, we worry about the unjust accusation too.

    I’m not casting any aspersions here. I just think the acts that constitute attempted rape (and not stalking or harassment, which the story does substantiate), ought to be set forth here by anonymous. When that is done, the Yale community can be appalled — and eductated — that it really does happen everywhere.

    • Justine

      Violence against women on any level is disgusting and all too common. Mix in one or both parties under the influence of alcohol – a recipe for disaster. Men’s violence against women increases when the man is drunk let along when the woman is under the influence and cannot protect herself. This alcohol frenzy induced weekend partying – pregaming in the residential college suites – and then continuing drinking at the frat houses – underage guys and girls – well, what do you expect to happen?

    • penny_lane

      Stop fishing for gory details and concern-trolling the clear-cut into a gray area. The article is not about what he did, but about what happened afterward.

      Besides, she said all that need be said: “He had dismissed my repeated insistence that I did not want to have sex with him.”

      • Mikelawyr2

        “But I resent that I was pressured toward one specific route among many, largely because the board clearly did not think my case was serious enough for a formal or criminal complaint.” You’re right — it’s about what happened afterward. Well, WAS her case “serious enough”? How would you evaluate the seriousness of her complaint? Who’s right — the board, or the author?

  • The Anti-Yale

    This is an ethical and parental no-man’s-land (or no-woman’sland).

    What a world we are creating in the politically correct post-flirtation society.


  • JE14

    In the last couple of days my esteem for you (PK) has increased dramatically. I agree with you that there is no problem with informal complaints and the whole staying secret and confidential, but in that case, IT HAS TO STAY CONFIDENTIAL. At this point everyone knows about how someone filed an informal complaint about Pat Witt, (note: no one seems to know what is in it though) and he has absolutely no way of clearing his name. At some point I feel like he should have the right to have either a) his name cleared by a drop of this complaint, or b) ask for a formal investigation. I sometimes feel like political correctness and tolerance have paradoxically put us back to a society. (I.e Moscow Trials here)

  • The Anti-Yale

    An alternative scenario.

    Roll back the YDN to Jan. 26, the day of the NYT Patrick Witt article.

    How much more noble and admirable it would have been for YDN to print something like this in its own editorial section:

    An article appearing in the Jan. 26 NYT casts a shadow over the reputation of a Yale senior, without so much as a single named attribution, but with several unnamed and anonymous sources instead. In light of this failure to meet basic journalistic standards of a minimum of two confirmed sources who themselves can be challenged by others, the Yale Daily News declines to elevate to its own pages either a synopsis of, or a reference to, the particulars in the New York Times article.

    In such a scenario the story would have become NOT “Yale Senior Accused in Times’ Article” but instead “Yale Daily News Refuses to Engage Claims in Times’ Article.”

    This is Monday-morning-quarterbacking, I know, but the current brouhaha would have taken an entirely different turn and have re-elevated journalistic standards in the process had this hypothetical scenario been chosen, instead of a rehearsal of unposited claims which dragged a person’s name through the mud by anonymous horses.

    Such is life.


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